April 12, 2007 cameron

#19 – The Peninsula War (Part One)

After the Battle Of Trafalgar (1805), the relationship between Spain (which had previously declared war on France in 1793 and then an alliance in 1795) and France soured.

In 1807, Spain was in turmoil, due to infighting between their disinterested Bourbon king Charles IV, his son Ferdinand and the Spanish Prime Minister (also the not-so-secret lover of Queen Marie Louisa), Manuel de Godoy. They turned to Napoleon for assistance to sort out their affairs. Already having occupied Portugal (because they refused to join the Continental System) Napoleon moved his forces into Madrid.

He didn’t count on one thing – the Spanish peasants. The resulting war is where the term “guerrilla” warfare was invented (guerra in Spanish means war and -illa means small – i.e. guerrilla warfare is fought with small, insurgent troops instead of large traditional armies).

The Second of May, 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes, by Francisco de Goya (1814).

The Peninsular War saw an alliance of Spain, Portugal, and Britain battle the French Empire for control of the Iberian Peninsula. It lasted from 1808 until Napoleon’s first abdication in 1814. In this episode we provide an introduction and some background to the war.

Additional Resources:

The Peninsula War
Map of the Iberian Peninsula
The Continental System

The theme music is La Marseillaise. Yes, we know it isn’t necessarily relevant to Napoleon but it’s hard to beat when it comes to French themes!


Comments (23)

  1. John Holloway

    What a blessed plauge this show is! ‘Though course work requires my attention, I dive into a sea of jubilation and distraction as indugle myself in Napoleonic history. I can only hope that my final exams tommorow are less painful for me than the Spanish Ulcer was for Napoleon. Another wonderful show gentlemen, you have enlightened me on this period of Napoleon’s reign.

    I have one question about Napoleon that is slightly off topic:
    When Napoleon was in exile at St. Helena he dictated his memiors to his secretary -correct? If so, do you know the title and author an English translation can be found under?

    Thanks and best regards,

  2. Cameron

    Good luck with your finals John!

    When on St Helena, he dictated his memoirs to Emmanuel-Augustin-Dieudonn̩-Joseph, comte de Las Cases (June 21, 1766 РMay 15, 1842) who was a French officer and historian.

    They were originally published as “Mémorial de Sainte Hélène” by the Count de Las Cases in 1822 and then into English in 1823.

    You can buy a first American edition (1823) on ebay for $500: http://tinyurl.com/3drahe

    Or you can buy a rare 1945 edition for $7000:

    Of course, you could buy either version and donate it to my library.

  3. John Holloway

    Fortune favors me; the 1823 translation is resting on a shelf at my university library. After the finals -and before the drinking- I shall check it out. I wonder how high the fine if it is “lost” in my collection…

  4. Bob

    Correct Kaboth. Gutenberg project has an english translation of Napoleon’s Memoirs as well as many other excellent sources.

  5. Hi, All,

    John, thanks for your kind comments. Its a little tricky to talk about Napoleon’s memoirs on St Helena, as he had conversations with a number of people besides Las Cases, most notably Dr O’Meara, Count Montholon and others. Plus a number of people published memoirs of their time there with Napoleon, and these memoirs can be useful as well. Be somewhat wary of Montholon, however, as his memoirs tend to be a bit self serving. (Same for Bourrienne’s, of course, though he wasn’t at St Helena).

    A couple of years ago I put together a little list of St Helena titles from my own library, and I have pasted them into this post. It is by no means complete as to my library or what is available, but were you to read this entire list, I think it would be safe to say that you were an expert on the subject! It has just about everything available in English, I think. Of course, I should point out that one of the titles includes the last known memoir of St Helena, published in its entirety for the first time. That would be Dr Verlings diary, of course.



    Select Saint Helena Bibliography

    Abbott, John S. C. Napoleon at St. Helena; or, Interesting anecdotes and remarkable conversations of the emperor during the five and a half years of his captivity. Collected from the memorials of Las Cases, O’Meara, Montholon,

    Antomarchi, and others. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855.
    Abell, Lucia Elizabeth (Balcombe). Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon, During the First Three Years of His Captivity on the Island of St. Helena: During the Time of His Residence at Her Father’s House, ‘The Briars.’ London: John Murray, 1845.

    Aldanov, Mark Aleksandrovich, Saint Helena, Little Island. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1924. First English edition. Translated from the Russian by A. E. Chamot.

    Antommarchi, Francesco. The Last Days of the Emperor Napoleon. 2v. London, 1825.

    Aubry, Octave. St. Helena. (Arthur Livingston, trans.) Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1936.

    Balmain, Aleksandr Antonovich, graf. Napoleon in Captivity: The Reports of Count Balmain, Russian Commissioner on the Island of St. Helena, 1816-1820. Translated and edited with introduction and notes by Julian Park. New York: Century, 1927.

    Bertrand, Henri Gratien, compte. Napoleon at St. Helena: Memoirs of General Bertrand, Grand Marshal of the Palace, January to May 1821. Deciphered and Annotated by Paul Fleuriot de Langle (Frances Hume, trans.) Garden City: Doubleday, 1952.

    Blackburn, Julia. The Emperor’s Last Island: A Journey to St. Helena. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.

    Brookes, Dame Mabel. St. Helena Story. New York: Dodd, Meade and Company, 1961.

    Chaplin, Arnold. Thomas Shortt (Principal Medical Officer in St. Helena), With Biographies of Some Other Medical Men Associated with the Case of Napoleon from 1815-1821. (London, 1914).

    __________. A St. Helena Who’s Who, or, A Directory of the Island During the Captivity of Napoleon. Second ed, revised and enlarged. New York and London, 1919.

    Cockburn, Rear Admiral Sir George. Buonaparte’s Voyage to St Helena; Comprising the Diary of Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, During His Passage From England to St Helena, in 1815. From the Original Manuscript, in the Handwriting of his Private Secretary. Boston: Lilly, Wait, Colman, and Holden, 1833.

    Forsyth, William. History of the Captivity of Napoleon at St. Helena; From the Letters and Journals of the Late Lieut.-Gen. Sir Hudson Lowe, and Official Documents Not Before Made Public. London: John Murky, 1853. 3v.

    Frémeaux, Paul. The Drama of Saint Helena. Translated from the French by Alfred Rieu. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1910.

    Gonnard, Philippe, The Exile of St. Helena: The Last Phase in Fact and Fiction. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1909.

    Gorrequer, Major Gideon. St. Helena During Napoleon’s Exile: Gorrequer’s Diary. With Introduction, Biographies, Notes and Explanations, and Index of Pseudonyms by James Kemble. London: Heinemann, 1969.

    Gourgaud, Gaspard Baron General. The St. Helena Journal of General Baron Gourgaud 1815-1818: Being a Diary Written at St. Helena During a Part of Napoleon’s Captivity. Sydney Gillard trans; Norman Edwards, ed/notes, Hilaire Belloc, preface). London: John Lane, 1932.

    __________. Talks of Napoleon at St. Helena with General Baron Gourgaud, together with the Journal Kept by Gourgaud on their Journey from Waterloo to St. Helena. Translated and with notes by Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer. Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1903.

    Henry, Walter. Surgeon Henry’s Trifles: Events of a Military Life. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Pat Hayward. London: Chatto and Windus, 1970.

    Humphreys, A. L. Napoleon: Extracts from the ‘Times’ and ‘Morning Chronicle’ 1815-1821 relating to Napoleon’s Life at St. Helena. London: Privately Printed by A. L. Humphreys, 1901. [Limited to 50 copies]

    Jackson, Basil. Notes and Reminiscences of a Staff Officer, Chiefly Relating to the Waterloo Campaign and to St Helena Matters During the Captivity of Napoleon. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co, 1903

    Kauffmann, Jean–Paul. The Black Room at Longwood: Napoleon’s Exile on Saint Helena. Translated from the French by Patricia Clancy. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1997.

    Knowles, Sir Lees, Bart. (Ed.) A Gift of Napoleon, Being a Sequel to Letters of Captain Engelbert Lutyens, Orderly Officer at Longwood, Saint Helena, Feb. 1820 to Nov. 1823. With Illustrations. London: John Lane, 1921.

    Korngold, Ralph, The Last Years of Napoleon: His Captivity on St. Helena. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co, 1959.

    Lachouque, Henry. The Last Days of Napoleon’s Empire: From Waterloo to St. Helena. Translated by Lovett F. Edwards. First American edition. New York: Orion Press, 1967.

    Las Cases, Marie Joseph Emmanuel Auguste Dieudonné, comte de, Memorial de Sainte Hélène. Memoirs of Emanuel Augustus Dieudonné Count de Las Casas, Communicated by Himself. Comprising a Letter from Count de Las Casas at St. Helena to Lucien Bonaparte, Giving a Faithful Account of the Voyage of Napoleon to St. Helena, His Residence, Manner of Living, and Treatment on that Island. Also A Letter Addressed by Count de Las Casas to Lord Bathurst. London: Henry Colburn, 1818.

    __________. Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of The Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena, by the Count De Las Cases. 4v. Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1823.
    Lutyens, Captain Engelbert. Letters of Captain Engelbert Lutyens, Orderly Officer at Longwood, Saint Helena: Feb. 1820 to Nov. 1823. Edited by Sir Lees Knowles. London and New York: John Lane, 1915.

    Malcolm, Clementina Elphinstone. A Diary of St. Helena: The Journal of Lady Malcolm (1816, 1817), Containing the Conversations of Napoleon with Sir Pulteney Malcolm (ed. Sir Arthur Wilson). New York: Harper, [1929]

    Marchand, Louis-Joseph. In Napoleon’s Shadow. Being the First English Language Edition of the complete Memoirs of Louis-Joseph Marchand, Valet and Friend of The Emperor 1811-1821. Produced by Proctor Jones. Original notes of Jean Bourguignon and Henry Lachouque. Preface by Jean Tulard. San Francisco: Proctor Jones Publishing Company, 1998.

    Markham, J. David. Napoleon and Dr Verling on St Helena. Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2005.

    Martineau, Gilbert, Napoleon’s St. Helena. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968.

    Masson, Frederic. Napoleon at St. Helena 1815 – 1821. Translated by Louis B. Frewer. First edition. Oxford: Pen In Hand, 1949.

    Mills, Lt. Nelson, and Cpt. Thomas Ussher, Napoleon Banished: The Journeys to Elba and to St. Helena in the Letters and Journals of Two British Naval Officers. London: The Rodale Press, 1955.

    Montholon, Charles Jean Tristan, marquis de. Memoirs of the History of France During the Reign of Napoleon, Dictated by the Emperor at Saint Helena to the Generals Who Shared His Captivity; and Published from the Original Manuscripts Corrected by Himself. London: Henry Colburn and Co. and Martin Bossange and Co., 1823. 3 vols.

    __________. History of the Captivity of Napoleon at St. Helena. 4 vols. (London, 1846).

    Napoleon’s Appeal to the British Nation, on His Treatment at Saint Helena. The Official Memoir, Dictated by him, and delivered to Sir Hudson Lowe. London: William Hone, 1817.

    O’Meara, Barry E. Historical Memoirs of Napoleon, Book IX: 1815 (B.E. O’Mera, trans). Philadelphia: Abraham Small, 1820.

    __________. An Exposition of Some of the Transactions, That Have Taken Place at St. Helena, Since the Appointment of Sir Hudson Lowe As Governor of that Island; In Answer to an AnonymousPamphlet, Entitled ‘Facts Illustrative of the Treatment of Napoleon Bonaparte,’ &c. Corroborated by Various Official Documents, Correspondence, &c. Second edition. London: James Ridgway, 1819.

    __________. Napoleon in Exile: or, A voice from St. Helena. The Opinions and Reflections of Napoleon on the most important events of his life and government, in his own words. Philadelphia: James Crissy, 1822.
    Pillans, T. Dundas. The Real Martyr of St. Helena. New York: McBride, Nast & Company, 1913.

    Quarterly Review. An Answer to O’Meara’s Napoleon in Exile; or, A Voice from St. Helena. From the Quarterly Review for February, 1823. New York: T. & J. Swords, 1823.

    Saint Denis, Louis Etienne. Napoleon from the Tuileries to St. Helena; personal recollections of the emperor’s second mameluke and valet, Louis Etienne St. Denis (known as Ali). Translation and notes by Frank Potter. Introduction by G. Michaut. New York and London: Harper, 1922.

    Shorter, Clement King, Napoleon and His Fellow Travellers; Being a Reprint of Certain Narratives of the Voyages of the Dethroned Emperor on the Bellerophon and the Northumberland to Exile in St. Helena; the Romantic Stories Told by George Home, Captain Ross, Lord Lyttelton, and William Warden. London: Cassell and Company, 1908.

    __________, Napoleon In His Own Defence: Being a Reprint of Certain Letters Written by Napoleon from St. Helena to Lady Clavering, and a reply by Theodore Hook, with which are Incorporated Notes and An Essay on Napoleon As a Man of Letters. London: Cassell and Company, Limited, 1910.

    Stokoe, Dr. John. With Napoleon at St. Helena: Being the Memoirs of Dr. John Stokoe, Naval Surgeon. Translated from the French of Paul Frémeaux by Edith S. Stokoe. London: John Lane, 1902.

    Tarbell, Ida Minerva. ‘Napoleon Bonaparte, Sixth Paper: The Last Campaigns; Waterloo; St. Helena,’ McClure’s Magazine, v. IV, No. 5, April, 1895.

    Thornton, Michael John. Napoleon After Waterloo: England and the St. Helena Decision. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1968.

    Tussaud, John Theodore. The Chosen Four. London: Jonathan Cape, 1928.

    Warden, William. Letters Written on Board His Majesty’s Ship The Northunberland, and at Saint Helena; In Which the Conduct and Conversations of Napoleon Buonaparte, and His Suite, During the Voyage, and the First Months of His Residence in That Island, Are Faithfully Described and Related. London: Published for the Author by R. Ackermann, 1817.

    Watson, George Leo De St. A Polish Exile with Napoleon: Embodying the letters of Captain Piontkowski to General Sir Robert Wilson and Many Documents from the Lowe Papers, the Colonial Office Records, the Wilson Manuscripts, the Capel Lofft Correspondence, and the French and Genevese Archives Hitherto Unpublished. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1912.

    Weider, Ben, and Sten Forshufvud. Assassination at St. Helena Revisited. Forwards by David Chandler and David Hamilton-Williams. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995.

    Welland, Rachel. Napoleon At Bay: A Letter of 1816. London: Buttercross Books, 1992.

    Young, Norwood. Napoleon in Exile at St. Helena (1815-1821). 2v. (Philadelphia, 1915).

    Younghusband, S. A. C. (Mrs. Frank), Letters from St. Helena. Blacksood’s Magazine, No. 1582, August, 1947, 144–153.

  6. Emmanuel

    Great show! Thanks to David Markham for struggling through it, at times it sounded as if he did not have an easy time.

    Cameron of course maintained masterly inactivity through most of it… But at the end he triggered some discussion on the history of guerrilla warfare.

    If the Spanish conflict was the first guerrilla war, the French can a least have the excuse that they had the right to be unprepared for it. However, I would dispute that this kind of fighting was entirely novel. Something similar enough to it had happened in France itself, during the French revolution, in the Vendee region. Fought by people who had similar (religious and socially conservative) motivations, too. And the brutal response of the French revolutionary government foreshadowed the savagery that would occur in Spain.

    French forces would also have had the opportunity to witness guerrilla tactics, although on a much smaller scale, during the American revolutionary war. The novelty of the Spanish conflict was irregular warfare that was both intense and spread over a large are, making it difficult to control.

    A very interesting question, I think, is whether the French in Spain were ultimately defeated ‘more’ by the guerrilleros or by Wellington’s regular army. To Napoleon the saying is attributed, correctly or not, that Spain was a country were large armies starved and small armies were defeated. The guerrilla forces made it impossible for the French to concentrate their forces and use their numerical superiority to defeat the British, if only because too many men were needed to guard the supply lines. Without the activities of the Spanish bands, it seems unlikely that the British could have won. Without the British army, the Spanish might not have been able to drive out the French, but it is dubious that they would ever have been defeated.

    Of course French inability to timely concentrate their forces in Spain was also Napoleon’s own fault. He insisted on controlling operations from France, despite the difficult communications, over Joseph’s head and behind his back. The result was absence of effective control over the quarreling marshals. The Carthaginians in the 2nd century BC demonstrated better strategic leadership than the Napoleon in the 19th century.

  7. The French also experienced this type of warfare, on a much smaller scale, in the Vendee, regions of Northern Italy, and the Tyrol. Probably the most similar precursor to the guerilla war in Spain were the rebellions in southern Italy, especially Calabria, Basilicata, and Puglia. I have a book by Milton Finley titled “The Most Monstrous of Wars” that details the conflict in southern Italy from about 1806-11. The biggest difference there was that there was no large British or other Allied land force aiding and supplying the rebels as in Spain and also that a much larger proportion of the Italian population supported the French and Napoleon (see the Memoirs of General Pepe). Again though, we see the same factors – southern Italy was much poorer, agrarian, feudal, conservative, and religious than northern Italy, which tended to be more urban, educated, and “enlightened”. Take from that what you will – I tend to find the truth lies somewhere in between. While we may say “how can these peasants have been so backwards and superstitious?” – the French Revolution with all it’s initial bloodshed, state sponsored terror, conscription, and perceived attacks on family, tradition, religion, and “legitimate” rulers – perhaps if I was a peasant in Calabria or Spain I would have also said “if that’s enlightenment, well no thank you”. So I do see both sides to the story. If Napoleon had handled Spain differently as David said, I do believe reform, progress, and peace could have eventually been achieved. I especially liked David’s comment on the hypocracy of Spanish rebels asking for aid from another “non-Catholic” invader. Very good point!
    Once again Cameron and David – GREAT SHOW!

  8. Antonio

    Happy to know you’re recovering quickly, David.

    A very interesting show indeed. Actually the Portuguese and Spanish hipocracy is not different from the attitude of the British and American during WWII, when they allied themselves with the USSR to fight Germany.

    Anyway, let’s not be naive to the point of believing that Napoleon wanted to modernize or enlighten Portugal (or Spain, in a later stage). Actually, he just wanted to invade these countries to force them to obey his orders and to close all trade with Great Britain.

    Elightnement my a**! The only enlightnement we had was caused by the flashes of French muskets and cannons!

    French interests were opposed to those of Portugal, who needed to keep his trade with Britain and his colonies in India and Brasil. Remember that Britain still had a fleet who could disable the overseas trade in Portugal, with catastrophic consequences.

    Napoleon was, in this case, a warmonger and I’m happy he got what he deserved in the end. His armies pillaged Portugal and it’s natural that peasants felt that they had to defend themselves against this horde of rapists, thieves and murdereres, using whatever means they had.

    There’s no moral paralel between the French and the guerrilleros. Would you put Polish or Russian resistants on the same level of German invaders? Being a patriot ,loving one’s Queen or simply defending one’s property, family and religion is NOT being superstitious or backwards. In fact, French soldiers were just as stupid and brutal as any peasant you might find.

    The French were responsible for the death, by execution, hunger or disease, of almost 100 thousand civilian deaths just in Portugal and this, my friends, should never be forgotten.

    I also would like to say that there’s no paralel between Portuguese guerrilleros and modern insurgents os terrorists. Please choose your words carefully in this context. It was the French who declared war on a small nation like Portugal and planned to take our independence, dividing us with Spain and perhaps making poor Junot a king. You’d had to be a complete fool to believe that Portugal or Spain would ever accept a puppet foreign king, placed in the throne by the French “Emperor”!

    Looking forward for the next show!

    Your faithfull listener


  9. Kaboth

    Superb job summarising the background of this campaign Cameron and David, I knew little about it myself.

    There were riots during the French occupation of Egypt as well but the French managed to control them quite successfully. Both Napoleon and Murat had experience quelling them there. I think without British intervention the French may have been able to retain control in Spain.

    Unfortunately the situation in Iraq seems quite different. Compared to the French occupation of Spain, the US occupation of Iraq per capita is probably a skeletal force much smaller than that of Vietnam at its peak as well.

    The biggest threat to the stability of Iraq may well be from within. The Mahdi army managed to arm and recruit a sizable following right under the US’s nose. It seems the troops required to pacify Iraq was hugely underestimated from the beginning and the US simply won’t have the political stomach to invest as many troops as necessary. Bush’s Iraqi Ulcer.

  10. Cameron

    “Cameron of course maintained masterly inactivity through most of it”….. !!!!

    As I’ve often said, I am merely the guy who presses the record button. David is the expert, I’m just his producer!

  11. Colin

    Well done to Dave for getting back in the hot seat so quickly and effectively after his operation.

    Bom dia Antonio. I think you have reminded us all that the reality of the Napoleonic Wars was horrible for the millions of people involved in them, with no say in the matter. It is fun to look back after a couple of centuries and enjoy the drama, but I would not want to switch places with any of the participants. The willingness of Napoleon, Pitt and the other kings and emporers involved to engage in warfare without thought for the consequences does none of them any credit even if it makes for interesting reading later. The truly great statesmen are the ones you never hear about because they successfully avoid crises.

    Having said that, by my reckoning a truly great statesman would make a truly awful subject for a podcast.

  12. FNH

    An interesting novel set in the peninsular that shows the horrid situation the civilians found themselves in is “The Gun” by C.S. Forester.

    Sorry if this is too off topic.

  13. Kaboth

    Ah I was unaware Forester had written any other books set during the Napoleonic Wars besides Hornblower.

  14. Antonio

    Colin wrote “Having said that, by my reckoning a truly great statesman would make a truly awful subject for a podcast” – So true, my friend! Napoleon is much more interesting than Ghandi!

    And don’t forget “Death to the French”, by the same author, which is somewhat related to one character – is it Rifleman Dodd? – from the famous Sharpe novels.


  15. andrew

    “I am merely the guy who presses the record button.” … too modest by a long way!

  16. Rob

    Hey all, I’m a CPT in the US Army out here in Iraq advising the Iraqi border police. I’m at a post where lucky I can get your podcasts and they have made life a lot more interesting and educational. I have never studied the Peninsula War too much as I always thought of it as a sideshow. Nevertheless, I’m loving the comparisons to what we have done/are doing in Iraq to what Napoleon did in Spain-and looking to learn more from the French experience (any good book recommends?). As an American, I would always look to Vietnam for similarities and never think of looking to France (most of my fellow Soldiers would probably not like the idea of being compared to the French Army in any event). Did the French have advisors for their Spanish supporters (military, political, etc) as we currently have? If they did, I hope that we will have more success. Well let me get back to business. Enjoy your 30-year old medication (for some odd reason the Army has no issues with people smoking and getting cancer but if someone wants a nice drink-it’s a mortal sin). Hope all is well and keep up the good work. Thanks

  17. Diane

    I have a copy of William Warden’s book, letters Written on Board His Majesty’s Ship the Northumberland published for the author by R. Ackermann 1817. I wonder how much it would be worth?

  18. Peter

    I’m currently interested in purchasing the two volume set of “Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte”, translated from the French of M. V. Arnault, C.L.F. Panckoucke, and others, Boston: published by A. Littlefield, 1839. The books are $125 a piece. I wanted to know if anyone knew if this is a fair price for these books or not.

  19. Sarah Stokoe

    We are tracing our family history. We are linked to the navel surgeon John Stokoe and would be keen for any books containing details of his time as LordNelsons Doctor.
    Do you have any books detailing John Stokoe?
    If so where can we purchase them.

  20. Gavin (portsmouth, england)

    Thanks for all the entertainment so far that you have given me while I’m at work during the night. I really enjoy the show, your style is great. My only criticism is of course that I think your too biased towards Napoleon and don’t give much credit to his adversarys. So I find myself trying to read between the lines. None the less, great work guys. Im looking forward to hearing more about Britains success in Spain in the next show, but no doubt it will be watered down in some way…

  21. Robert Huffman

    Although the political landscape is very interesting in Europe at this time (and I learned a lot here) can you guys talk less about politics and more about military affairs, cultural life in Spain/Portugal or other subjects inside Europe during this time?

  22. Rob

    Hello there Cameron & David I felt I had to leave a comment and congratulate the pair of you on a thoroughly engaging and incredibley listenable podcast about one of the greatest figures in history.I stumbled across the podcast less then a week ago and will be start episode 19 once this is posted – A decade after this aired yet probably a bit too early.
    Taking a not too unrelated a tangent when you were both at a loss to name or more fairly when thinking of another British military figure to rank alongside Nelson and Wellesley you found nobody sprang to mind but I would have thought it was easy.King Aurthur obviously.I’m joking but there is one figure who absolutely demands his place in that triad and that is Churchill.SirJohn Churchill,the famous victor at the battle of Blenheim and later the Duke of Marlborough.
    Anyway,I wanted to leave my comment before listening to the episode to get my defence of Wellington in as I suspect he may not get his full due tonight neither for brilliance of his Generalship nor the breadth and scope of his abilities either.
    Like Marlborough approx 100 years or so before he was far sighted and planned well in advance when it came to the logistics and supply but also in dealing with his ‘allies’ the Spanish who at best were a major inconvenience.Not the partisans and those actually fighting but the ‘noble’ aristocratic defacto military leaders and church officials.
    For a clear example of the way we planned and took the necessary action well in advance then look no further than the ‘Lines of Torres Vedras he’d had built arround Lisbon while he was in Spain fighting the Battle of Talevera.On pulling back to their winter quarters in Portugal he was aware the French would pursue him with an overwhelming force so had several concentric rows of highly defensible stone walls constructed built into the very fabric of the local rocky terrain.Not only that we persuaded the Portugese to abandon their farms and land,burn everything the French could possibly use and remain behind the defenses while the French in their 10,000s slowly starved to death unable to break the defensive lines or find any food once the winter set in.
    To persuade an entire populace to abandon then scorch everything they have to seek the protection of what was a foriegn army takes someone with immense skills.
    I was going to launch a 1000 point arguement why Wellington was so much more than the solid defensive General he is portrayed as these days but this comment would turn into an essay but I really do believe he was a far superior commander than he’s generally believed to be.Battles like Salamanca demonstrate an almost Bonaparte-esque ability to recognise when others remain oblivious the seemingly inconsequential mistake your opponent made and being decisive about taking it when it arose.
    I’m not one of those brits who gets all put out of shape hearing others don’t see our hereos the way we might see them and as for being biased I don’t see it as the massive intellectual crime that,usually the less intellectual out there,cry out and accuse others of.We are all biased in some sense,it’s part of our human nature but it’s when we’re blind to it and fail to recognise it in ourselves it becomes a problem.

    You are both pro Napoleon and freely say so.I wouldn’t have listened to almost 20 hours so far in around 5 days if I didn’t have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the man aswell.

    Far from being an ‘evil genius’ akin to Hitler I’ve never heard such blatant ignorance and tripe in my life.Bonaparte was in no way anyone you could possibly describe as evil that’s just crazy while Hitler was probably evil,certainly hateful he was as far from being a genius (actually a very,very limited thinker in my opinion) as Napoleon was from being evil.Napoleon was by every definition out there a true genius,the comparison is utterly unfounded and the preserve of the less than brightest out there.
    Anyway,I thank you for the excellent podcast.I’ve paid my 10 dollars to get the entire series but now I’ve found I’ve got a new question and some confusion to cope with.
    The one figure in history who I admire just as fully as Napoleon,possibly slightly more if they’ve been in my reading and conciousness at the time.The one who was his equal at least and also outshone those around him was the great Julius Caeser.Do I dip in before i’ve finished with Napoleon or finish it and start the next one fresh.
    What a world of insolvable problems we live in today,

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